1251 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Small Order Policy



This policy provides for efficient ways to procure small dollar items where the financial risks to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") are low and the State of North Carolina does not require competition.

Scope of Applicability

Applies to all UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty and Staff when making purchases less that or equal to the Small Purchase Benchmark defined as purchases less than or equal to $25,000 including applicable taxes (e.g. out of state sales tax) and shipping.


Policy Statement

The State of North Carolina and the University allow purchases for goods and services that cost less than the Small Purchase Benchmark to be purchased as needed without soliciting competition. Each department has budget authority to use this small order process. The chair, dean or director may delegate this authority to specified departmental personnel. Individuals using the small order policy should exercise due diligence in obtaining best-value products by exploring multiple sources before expending University funds.

Goods or services acquired under this policy may be paid for using a University Purchasing Card (P-Card), direct billing via E-Commerce, or the campus voucher process with an invoice if less than or equal to $5,000. All small order purchases greater than $5,000 must be submitted via a requisition in Connect Carolina to assure that Capital assets are identified, asset tagged, and tracked appropriately in accordance with Finance Policy 601: Policy on Capital Assets. These requisitions should include a vendor quote, but do not require a Waiver of Competition form. Procurement Services monitors small order payments to ensure compliance with all policies, laws and regulations.


The small order policy cannot be used for the following:

  • Purchases in excess of Small Purchase Benchmark (including applicable taxes and delivery charges); purchases may not be split into several purchases or payments to avoid this threshold;
  • Personal services provided by an individual who has no employee affiliation with the University and who provides service to the University, such as a consultant, a speaker, or a performer (e.g. Independent Contractor);
  • Radioactive materials; and/or
  • Chemicals on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards.

The University has negotiated competitively bid contracts for the majority of our B2B vendors in the BuyCarolina system. Purchases of up to $25,000 per purchase order may be placed with vendors having University specific punch-out catalogs and negotiated pricing without involving the UNC-Chapel HIll Department of Purchasing Services.

Additional Information

Special Situations

Services for one-time repairs and maintenance (see Chart of Accounts for proper account) may be purchased through this process. However, regardless of dollar value, any written contract for repairs and maintenance services must be reviewed and signed by UNC-Chapel Hill Purchasing Services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do I need to get authorization to purchase goods or services in excess of the Small Purchase Benchmark?
A: Authorization is required to ensure adherence to State statutes and maintain effective internal control. Contracts of suppliers who do not have to accept returns usually contain language that increases the difficulty of pursuing that vendor in a potential lawsuit. In addition to ensuring the University receives the best value through open competition, required authorization and rules governing state agency purchasing provides UNC-Chapel Hill Purchasing Services with information on a vendor's historical performance, financial status and other important factors that mitigate the risk of receipt of faulty goods.

Q: I would like to purchase an item costing in excess of the Small Purchase Benchmark. Is there any way I can purchase the item without Purchasing Services' involvement?
A: No. Once the cost of an item exceeds the Small Purchase Benchmark, it is no longer considered a small order and Purchasing Services must be involved to ensure fair and open competition.

Q: Can I purchase an item with personal funds and then have the University reimburse me?
A: No, small purchases are made by one of the approved procurement methods whereby the University is making the payment directly to the vendor. The University's exemption from sales and use tax is only valid if the purchase is made through approved procurement channels.

Q: If the item costs less than the Small Purchase Benchmark, but shipping and handling bring the total cost to more than the benchmark, may I pay the invoice on a campus voucher?
A: No, the total amount of the purchase must be less than the Small Purchase Benchmark as defined in the Scope of Applicability above . The campus voucher system will not allow you to create a document in excess of this benchmark.

Q: Do I still have to use State contracts to make small purchases?
A: Yes, some State contracts are mandatory and must be checked before making a purchase.

Q: Do I have to get three quotations before making a small purchase?
A: No. Three quotations are not required, but a good steward of the State's dollars should always look for the best price.

Q: If the purchase cost less than the Small Purchase Benchmark and there is a contract or maintenance agreement to be signed, may I just sign the contract?
A: No, departments do not have signature authority for purchasing contracts regardless of amount. All contracts must be reviewed and signed by Purchasing Services. If you sign the contract, you are making yourself personally liable for the terms and conditions of that contract. Contracts under $5,000 must be submitted to Purchasing Services selecting "Contract Review Only" as the supplier name. Once the contract has been signed, you may use a P-Card or campus voucher as an appropriate payment method. All other contracts should be submitted on a fully funded requisition.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Small order purchases of goods & services Purchasing Services - Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-0636 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • May 10, 2022
  • February 28, 2020
  • April 12, 2019: Moved a question previously listed in 1218 to this policy as it was a better fit for the question.
  • February 28, 2018
  • December 9, 2014: Added item to list of Exclusions.
  • October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisitions; revised references to campus vouchers.
  • July 23, 2010
  • August 10, 2007
  • March 29, 2005
Print Article


Article ID: 131438
Thu 4/8/21 9:09 PM
Sun 8/28/22 12:27 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Purchasing Services
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/01/1998 12:00 AM